Cask of Amontillado

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado, Eureka: A Prose Poem Pages: 4 (1484 words) Published: March 14, 2014

The Cask of Amontillado: A Study of Vengeance and Pride

In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”, the themes of pride and revenge are deeply intertwined. They say pride comes before the fall, and it is evident that Poe was a firm believer in this concept. In his tale, it is the sin of pride that ultimately leads both characters down the path to ruin. The two main characters embody and express these themes. The protagonist, Montresor embodies revenge, his motives thoughts and actions are driven by it, his every move clearly calculated to “not only punish, but punish with impunity” (Poe). Fortunato, “the fortunate one”, our hapless antagonist, is led to his ultimate resting place because of an inherent weakness, his pride. At every step his pride is exploited by Montresor, the dangling carrot that leads him to his demise.

The motivation for revenge is based on emotions particularly the hurt of one’s pride. Samuel Johnson said, “Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged”. Such is the case for Montresor in “The Cask of Amontillado”. The author, Edgar Allan Poe, leaves much room for interpretation and analysis. The story is told from the perspective of Montresor, presumably in Italy, possibly France, in the late 18th century during the time of Carnival. Montresor is insulted prior to the tale by the other character, Fortunato. How we are not told. From the very first line of the story, from Montresor himself, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge” (Poe). It is clear that although Montresor feels he had been wronged by Fortunato numerous times in the past, it is the insult that drove him to seek his vengeance. It is not the thousand sticks and stones, but the names that hurt Montresor deepest, an affront to his pride is the catalyst here. Just as Montresor’s injured pride is the source of his vengeful actions,...

Cited: Baraban, Elena V. "The Motive for Murder in "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe." Rocky Mountain Review of Language & Literature (2004): 47-64. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
Morseberger, Robert E. "The Cask of Amontillado." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
Platizky, Roger. "Poe 's The Cask of Amontillado." Exlicator 57.4 (1999): 206-09. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.
Poe, Edgar Allan, and Gary Richard Thompson. "The Cask of Amontillado." The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe: Authoritative Texts, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004.
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